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Clarifying data for reciprocal comparisons of nutritional standards of living in England and the Yangtze Delta (Jiangnan), c.1644 – c.1840

Deng, Kent and O'Brien, Patrick (2014) Clarifying data for reciprocal comparisons of nutritional standards of living in England and the Yangtze Delta (Jiangnan), c.1644 – c.1840. Economic History Working Paper Series (207/2014). The London School of Economics and Political Science, London, UK.

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Abstract

The Great Divergence Debate, initiated by the ‘California School’ in 1998 has revitalised a meta question for global history of “when,” “how,” and “why” the economies of Western Europe, on the one hand and the Ming-Qing Empire of East Asia, the Mughal empire of South Asia and the Ottoman Dominions of West Asia and the Balkans on the other, diverged economically and geopolitically over one long cycle of Eurasian economic development. This paper is designed to return to ‘basics’ by interrogating the estimates and proxies utilized by participants in the debate by placing them in a nutritional perspective to see whether and to what extent there was a common trajectory between the Yangtze Delta and England after 1500 for (1) a sustainable intake of food and (2) to support an increasingly urbanised, commercialised and industrialised economy. Our conclusion is that although the Yangtze Delta’s average living standards may have been respectable its economy was not modernising due to the mutually reinforcing factors of a physiocratic state, a labour-intensive farming sector, and low levels of urban development. A similar pattern might be shared by the Mughal and Ottoman empires in the same historical context?

Item Type: Monograph (Working Paper)
Official URL: http://www.lse.ac.uk/economicHistory/home.aspx
Additional Information: © 2014 The Author
Divisions: Economic History
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HC Economic History and Conditions
H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine > RA0421 Public health. Hygiene. Preventive Medicine
JEL classification: N - Economic History > N3 - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Income, and Wealth > N34 - Economic History: Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Income and Wealth: Europe: 1913-
N - Economic History > N3 - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Income, and Wealth > N35 - Economic History: Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Income and Wealth: Asia including Middle East
N - Economic History > N5 - Agriculture, Natural Resources, Environment, and Extractive Industries
Sets: Departments > Economic History
Collections > Economists Online
Date Deposited: 01 Sep 2014 08:50
Last Modified: 10 Jun 2019 23:23
URI: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/59303

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